Princess Rachel Mika Kawawaki



Sponsor: Benihana
Age: 23
Hometown: Millbrae, CA
Education: B.A. Communications, University of California, Davis
Creative Expression: Karate Kata

What does the Japanese American Community of Northern California and the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival mean to me?

My first memory of the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival was marching down the streets of Japantown dressed in a blue happiko and a paper sakura headband with my Nihonmachi Little Friends classmates. I was excited to see how many people came to watch the parade and cheer us on. As a reminder of my culture, my family and I continue to attend it every year and look forward to eating the takoyaki and teriburgers.
As a gosei, I always felt distant from my culture. Growing up, in order to maintain my Japanese identity, I practiced karate, played Asian league basketball, and took Japanese language classes. Last Spring, I was fortunate to be able to participate in the JACL’s Kakehashi Project. While in Japan, I formed a better understanding of US-Japan relations and built close friendships with other Japanese Americans. Since our trip, I have volunteered at an Executive Order 9066 remembrance event in Portland and attended an Obon Festival in San Jose.
The Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival and the Japanese American Community of Northern California are significant parts of my identity. It represents my first memories of the festival, my present desire to become more involved, and my hope for a better future that generations to come can experience and keep our cultural traditions alive. They both have shaped and continue to shape who I am, pushing me to never forget my heritage, and continue to better myself and become more involved within the Japanese American Community.

Professional attributions or goals in life:
Giving back to the community has always been an important value of mine. I have always admired companies that not only aim to excel in their respective industry, but also strive to have a strong and positive impact in their community. My goal is to be a part of a company that is passionate about their business, hoping that it can contribute to a better world.

Community Organizations / Extra Curricular Activities:
JACL’S Kakehashi Project (2017- present), Delta Sigma Pi; Professional Co-Ed Business Fraternity (2014-present), North Davis Elementary School Teaching Intern (Fall 2016), Foster City Flyers Basketball (2011-2016), Shinkyu Shotokan Karate (1999-present), Mills High School Athletics (2012-present)

Marathon running, playing basketball and volleyball, traveling, and baking